SPACE 5. My Land!
In the secret underground facility of the NIS. Eerie moans kept on being heard from the underground room. However there was no sympathy in the eyes of the man in his 30s. He just clicked his tongue instead.
“Hey, are they really special agents?”
A man with swollen eyes said as he scratched his head.
“These days the army is so soft that it no different from a kindergarten. But aren’t they the special forces of the NIS? The NIS agents that can withstand torture can only do this much?”
“Hyung-nim, are we the mafia? This isn’t a military dictatorship. If we do that than the agents will be unhappy. You should know that.”
“I don’t know. All I know is that the supposedly elite agents of the NIS are whining like children. I’ll say this. It doesn’t matter if the meat on their bones is torn off like wolves ate it. They had to do it without complaining or withdrawing.”
“Hyung-nim really is special.”
“That is my nature.”
The man answered in a curt tone before standing up.
“Seeing these guys moaning in the darkness is distracting. I’m going to smoke a cigarette.”
Hyung-nim, cigarettes are full of nickel, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, carcinogens etc. Please think about your health.”
“Are you a NIS agent or the ambassador for a no-smoking campaign? Is this really the voice of a NIS employee?”
“I might be an NIS employee but I’m still a person. In addition, I’m also the head of my family.”
“Yes, you have to worry about messes on the wall and other crap. I’m a bachelor so I can smoke.”
The man then went outside. He took out a cigarette and started smoking.
“Dammit, what am I doing now?”
The man smoking was Lee Myung-ryong. He had suddenly been contacted by the NIS a week ago. At first Lee Myung-ryong thought the call had something to do with Gwon Hwa-rang. The tycoon and politicians were probably being shielded by the NIS. Then Kang Ho-cheol who guided him around the NIS blatantly provoked him. The NIS was quite a scary place. The provocation had impure motives behind it. The problem was that Lee Myung-ryong was a person born without fear. His DNA was made for battles! The person who called him Hyung-nim in the underground facility was Kang Ho-cheol. His swollen eye was the work of Lee Myung-ryong.
-Today Daddy met a superman.
That was what Kang Ho-cheol told his two daughters after coming home. Well, Lee Myung-ryong turned is face into a swollen rice cake so he needed something to explain to his two daughters. Then Lee Myung-ryong heard an explanation that he never expected.
“This isn’t a SF movie. Lucifer’s recovery……”
He honestly still couldn’t believe it. An artificial intelligence existed in the game. He already died once and now he rose again just to take over the nuclear power plant and threaten the government? How could he believe that? But it was true. And the NIS had already made preparations to deal with it.
‘In my eyes, the headquarters looks more like a game room than an emergency task force room.’
That was the underground facility he had just been in. There were 300 capsules that connected to Galaxian and the 300 personnel were either in the capsules or eating.
“You’ll be joining this team. This is a state of emergency for the country. We’ve contacted the Gangnam police office and will provide you with a room and meals. Needless to say, this is a confidential matter. You can’t reveal anything about this situation to anyone.”
So Lee Myung-ryong joined the Lucifer Hunting team.
‘At this rate I won’t be able to fulfil Hwa-rang hyung-nim’s request.’
The request from Gwon Hwa-rang surfaced in his head. Lee Myung-ryong could determine the severity of the issue. And he was a civil servant. Gwon Hwa-rang’s request couldn’t take precedence over the country’s state of emergency.
‘But what can I do? I have experience but I’m not a person who originally enjoyed playing games. I was just thrown into New World. There are already strong people dealing with the emergency situation than why am I needed? What can I teach them?’
But it was different than he expected. He joined the team and watched for a few days.
“I don’t understand the situation but I clearly know what they are lacking.”
“It is will! That is what this team is lacking.”
“That is ridiculous. They are all agents specially trained to hunt Lucifer. They went through a myriad of training without sleep, counterterrorism manoeuvres and constant high intensity training. I can’t accept the fact that they lack willpower.”
“Why is that?”
“Frankly there isn’t a large difference in my skills compared to theirs. The difference is in practical experience. The NIS agents have quite a bit of fighting experience. But there is a difference in our fighting experience. I worked in a SWAT team and fought criminals every single day. Our experience is very different.”
“But they are Lucifer hunting agents……”
“Training is training. Do you understand? Actual fighting is different from training.”
“But how can they possible match a veteran with 25 year’s experience? Where can they gain practical experience fighting with guns in South Korea?”
“So I will show them actual fighting from now on.”
The members of the Lucifer hunting team weren’t afraid of death. The country was in a crisis! They couldn’t be scared! They had to stop Lucifer even if they needed to step over the corpses of their fellow soldiers. The personnel who committed to this weren’t afraid of death.
…..That was the problem.
“So you’re not afraid of death? Don’t joke around. Isn’t that just fighting bravely? Those guys would just die. And the troops would be -1. That is troublesome. The most important thing in a fight is survival. If you survive then you can fire one more bullet. If you don’t understand that then you will just be playing at fighting.”
“But how can they learn not to fight bravely?”
“They will have to learn with their bodies.”
Once again, the virtual reality capsule moderated pain. The game was a realistic experience but the users would just receive a small shock in place of the pain. But even that small shock could cause irritation.
‘This is the reason why they’re not afraid of death. They aren’t desperate to survive. That’s because it is a game so they don’t need to survive. I need to fix that mindset.’
They had the right person. Lee Myung-ryong became the team leader after joining the team.
“That sounds like fun.”
Lee Myung-ryong’s eyes glittered as he heard a description of the situation.
“It might be difficult to change the game system but this is just converting a hardware. All you need to do is amplify the signal. This really is a brilliant idea. As expected, you understand everything without me having to describe it.
“Huhuhu, my body went through it as well.”
The capsule was remodelled under his orders. In the renovated capsules the pain values were realistic. If the character received damage then it would feel 100% real. In order words, they really would feel it if shot by a bullet or their limbs were cut off. That’s why screams rang out in the underground facility.
Since then the team members started their hellish hours. Now Galaxian was no longer a game for them. How could it be a game when they suffered the pain of a broken limb? The only difference was that their bodies would revive. It wasn’t a wonderful thing. It meant that terrible pain needed to be repeated. Naturally the attitudes of the agents in the game changed by 180 degrees.
‘I can’t rush blindly even if the monster is weak. I don’t want to experience that terrible pain again. Fighting without being injured would be the best. I have to avoid any blows that will deal serious injury. I have to do whatever it takes to survive!’
They no longer fought with ignorant courage. Their heads thought frantically in order to survive. Then skills they never imagined were created.
|-[Evasion (☆ ☆)] skill has been created.
<This increases the probability of a desperate person to avoid enemy gunfire>
|-[Safety First (☆ ☆)] skill has been created.
<Damage will reduce and defense increase for a certain period of time>
|-[Carefulness (☆ ☆)] skill has been created.
<Situational judgement has increased and damage received from the surrounding environment will be reduced>
These skills were produced by their struggles to avoid pain! This was reflected in their combat power.
-I have to become stronger in order to avoid dying!
Like a movie, the team members became stronger after experiencing death.
“Hyung-nim is a genius!”
Kang Ho-cheol praised Lee Myung-ryong. However the agents had different thoughts.
‘We’re receiving this pain because of that bastard!’
‘What diabolical ideas are running through that head of his?’
‘He is the devil!’
But Lee Myung-ryong wasn’t affected by this. He had suffered this when he first started New World and didn’t know anything about the game. Now the agents playing Galaxian were experiencing it as well.
“To think Hyun-woo was hired for this job……”
The NIS had commissioned private gamers. Hyun-woo was included among those numbers. It was natural considering Hyun-woo was the strongest player in New World. In addition, he was one of the users who defeated Lucifer. It would be strange if Hyun-woo wasn’t invited.
“Hwa-rang hyung-nim’s request is second at the moment. First I have to meet Hyun-woo to talk about the Lucifer hunting.”
Lee Myung-ryong muttered as he threw his cigarette butt away.
Hyun-woo sighed. Just after the situation in S-20 was put to order. Hyun-woo took Tori out into the universe. He had something to take care of before meeting Marquis Martin again for the intelligence mission. But Ark’s destination couldn’t be reached in 1~2 hours. With warp navigation it would take 20 hours. In other words, he had nothing to do for 20 hours except wait. It was a lot of spare time.
‘Things turned out well. In fact, I postponed the Taek real estate problem in order to play the game.’
To be honest it wasn’t just because of the game. Hyun-woo had already guessed the reason behind the real estate problem. Lucifer was behind the incident! If he defeated Lucifer then the real estate price might recover and even go higher. The only hope was to reach the ultimate goal in Galaxian before Lucifer. Therefore he put off the rehabilitation members request to go saw the Taek land and immersed himself in the game. Because there was no way to solve the real estate problem in real life. But he couldn’t talk about that situation.
‘Yes, I can’t put off the matter much longer or the hyung-nims would be worried. I have time now so I should go see them.’
–Yes, you thought well.
–We’ll see you soon. We’ll take a look around the land.
The hyung-nims were okay. It was good up to there. The problem was the phone call he got just before leaving.
–I am Cho Min-sun.
“Cho Min-sun? I don’t know that name……”
–You might know me as Irina?
Hyun-woo’s jaw dropped. It had been 20 days since he met up with Irina on Istana’s orbital garrison after the Amara event. Hyun-woo had asked for a date and Irina unexpectedly gave him her phone number. No, Cho Min-sun was her real name and she had promised to meet up when she had time. Now she had called.
‘Don’t tell me……?’
–I’m sorry for the delay. I was quite busy. I know this is a sudden call. Do you have time today?
‘Oh my god!’
Hyun-woo was speechless. He had been waiting for this phone call. His heart wanted to jump out of his chest. However the timing was horrible. Hyun-woo had promised to meet his hyung-nims and was just about to depart for the Taek mountain region. He had already put off this appointment too many times. And he couldn’t cancel the appointment since his hyung-nims had probably already left. But he hadn’t been in contact with Cho Min-sun for 20 days. He was extremely worried!
–As expected, was it too abrupt? Then the next opportunity……
“Ah, no it’s fine!”
Hyun-woo shouted frantically. Hyun-woo knew Cho Min-sun’s circumstances. Her mother was lying in the ICU. Hyun-woo understand her situation immediately.
‘I’ve stopped by every time I’m in the hospital but I never see anyone else. Perhaps she grew up with a widowed mother. Or maybe she is a single mother. I don’t understand her economic circumstances but it would be difficult for a young woman to take care of the hospital bills by herself. Yes, Min-sun is the same as I was a few years ago. She is probably playing Galaxian in order to gain money. That’s the reason why she seems blunt. She’s like I was when my mother was first hospitalized.’
Hyun-woo had gone through this situation. So he knew. A person in these circumstances would be very busy. He couldn’t miss this chance to meet up with her. Hyun-woo worried for a while before having no choice but to be straightforward.
“I’ll tell you honestly. I actually have a previous engagement. I need to meet with my hyung-nims in a province. I’ve been slightly busy and kept having to postpone so I can’t cancel it now. Then would you like to go on a small drive with me?”
Cho Min-sun replied in a hesitant voice. Hyun-woo sensed a rejection and was about to sigh.
–That place isn’t on an island that requires a ship to get there is it?
“Huh? Ah, no. It is probably a 2 hour drive by car?”
–Then it will be fine.
Cho Min-sun replied in a bright voice. When he called the rehabilitation members they welcomed it immediately.
–This brat, I was wondering about your excuses but you had a reason for it!
–Are you dating again?
–There is no way we would say no if you wanted to bring a woman!
–Aren’t you a player? Bring her. Hyung-nim will boast about you!
Naturally the rehabilitation members were OK!
‘But having my hyungs along during our first date…….’
This was the reason for Hyun-woo’s sigh. It was an unavoidable situation but wasn’t this their first date? And that wasn’t the only thing he was worried about. The rehabilitation members weren’t ordinary. They were former criminals that he called ‘Hyung-nim.’ They were the type where people would reflexively act in self-defence if they were seen on a dark night. He didn’t know whether it was good to introduce his hyung-nims on a first date. It was natural for him to be worried. The rehabilitation hyungs also knew about Kang Mi-su and Jung Hye-sun. If they met Cho Min-sun then there was a chance they could let something slip.
‘This might be a big deal……’
But the water had already spilled. Now Hyun-woo was driving a car down the freeway with Cho Min-sun sitting next to him. He was now on a date so he had no choice but to see it through.
“Do you feel uncomfortable?”
Hyun-woo shook his head and spoke quickly.
“This is our first time meeting outside, no is it the second if we include the party? However we didn’t know each other at that time so this should be the first meeting. I feel sorry because you suddenly have to meet my hyung-nims.”
“No I’m fine. It’s not like Hyun-woo did it on purpose. Rather I am sorry for suddenly contacting you. If I felt uncomfortable then I would’ve refused. I’m not the type of person who won’t speak my mind.”
“I know that as well.”
Hyun-woo laughed and answered.
“You are the type of person who won’t give rations to a starving prisoner because they were missing 0.5 grams of Iridium.”
“If you speak like that then Hyun-woo ssi also did something.”
“Huh? What did I do?”
“You took off your pants in front of me to buy a shovel.”
“Ack! You still remember that?”
“It is a memory I want to forget.”
“Then please forget it. I was desperate at that time.”
“I’m a little surprised though. I thought that Hyun-woo ssi would soon quit the game. Yet you ended up receiving the title of Beltana and Athamas’ Hero and the title of a sector administrator. Galaxian is the first game I’ve played but I know that isn’t an easy thing to achieve.”
“I think that Min-sun ssi is also wonderful. Not anyone can enter the galactic federation. This is your first time playing the game yet you managed to become an executive of the galactic federation. That isn’t something an ordinary user can do.”
Cho Min-sun replied with a dreary expression. Hyun-woo thought that he made a mistake. He played the game to live. Despite millions of people playing the game in this age, it still didn’t have that good of a perception. Many men were reluctant to talk to gamers. Let alone women.
‘Is it okay to speak about this?’
Hyun-woo wondered with an embarrassed expression. Then Cho Min-sun laughed and continued.
“By the way? Haven’t we only been talking about Galaxian since we met?”
“Huh? Ah, I’m really sorry. I must seem a bit dull……”
“It’s nothing. I find this convenient. Honestly questions like my hobby and blood type make me uncomfortable. I think it is an advantage that we can talk about our favourite thing seriously.
“I also appreciate that.”
“That doesn’t mean you can be too relaxed.”
“I understand. I will put in more effort to raise your impression of me. Please give me the quests.”
“The first quest is to take me home safely.”
“Is this a repeatable quest?”
“That remains to be seen.”
“In the end it will depend on my impression. I understand. I’ll accept your first quest! I will 100% complete it!”
Hyun-woo had been quite nervous. His hyung-nims intruded on his fist date but that date was actually a burden. A date was needed to progress the relationship but he hadn’t known what to talk about. To be honest he had spent 20 minutes choosing a t-shirt and jeans. But that nervousness was solved when they met. No, he even felt comfortable. It was because they had a common interest. Today he was grateful that Galaxian existed. The thing he was worried about also didn’t happen.
“Ohhh! It is a beauty!”
The rehabilitation hyungs were waiting at the meeting point. The rehabilitation members flocked as soon as Hyun-woo stopped the car.
“Nice to meet you! I’m sorry this is so sudden but do you have an older sister?”
“This bastard, where are you forcing your horrible mug?”
“I’m sorry. That guy never learned any manners.”
“What? Then you learnt it as well?”
“I learnt a lot more than you. Please understand. The difference between us is large. He was barely taught not to
“My name is Kang Yoo-jin.”
“Eh? Why did you greet her first? I’m Yoo An-gook.”
“Wait! I’m first! I’m Ma Cho-rong……”
“Get out you beast!”
The rehabilitation members shouted over the top of each other. In fact, Hyun-woo had felt tense when the rehabilitation members first gathered around Cho Min-sun. Except for 2~3 people, most of them have faces hat people would be scared of. However that tension eased with the gag moment of the rehabilitation members.
‘The first checkpoint has been passed?’
Hyun-woo felt relieved.
“Hyung-nims, stop now. How can you expect her to remember your names if you keep on talking over each other? Let’s talk about business over a meal.”
“Yes, let’s do that.”
“Is it here?”
Hyun-woo looked over an expanse of grass. Yoo An-gook nodded and pointed to the distant mountain.
“Yes, it is from here up to that mountain. There is no change but I thought you should see it once. Doesn’t it seem different once you actually see it?”
Yoo An-gook was showing him the piece of real estate. Hyun-woo had trusted the real estate to Yoo An-gook so this was the first time he saw the land directly. But Hyun-woo also had an eye for land. In New World he owned his own estate and he even had a sector in Galaxian. From Hyun-woo’s point of view, the land that Yoo An-gook bought wasn’t bad. The scenery was beautiful and it would be situation in the heart of the new city that had been planned.
‘The value of the land now……’
A sigh naturally emerged. That didn’t change even if he saw the land. The reason he had met the rehabilitation members today wasn’t to come up with a solution. It was to make up an excuse and to have a meal together. After driving around the border of the land, Hyun-woo and the members found a suitable restaurant. And they chatted while eating.
“But why did you come here to look around?’
Cho Min-sun asked. Kang Yoo-jin replied before Hyun-woo.
“What? Hyun-woo, you didn’t tell her were this was?”
He had been slightly worried about it. This was their first date and he felt like he would be bragging if he said ‘this is my land.’
Hyun-woo scratched his head awkwardly. Ma Cho-rong laughed and interrupted.
“You don’t know yet. Then I’ll say it. He might look trivial but he is rich in land. That place we toured? That is his land.”
“Huh? That is Hyun-woo’s land?”
“Not only that. He is a director of a large company. Have you heard about a company called Global Exos? He is the director there. MIn-sun ssi caught a proper guy.”
“Hyung-nim, what are you saying?”
“Yes, Ma Cho-rong. Are you drunk? What are you saying?”
“Ah no, I just……”
Ma Cho-rong examined Hyun-woo and Kang Yoo-jin’s expression and closed his mouth.
“I’m sorry. Like I said previously, this guy hasn’t learnt any manners. I’ll apologize instead?”
“No I’m fine. By the way, isn’t Global Exos the one who made the game called New World? If you’re the director of that company than Hyun-woo really is Ark……”
“Yes, I am that Ark.”
Hyun-woo sighed and replied.
“I wasn’t hiding it intentionally. I just didn’t have an opportunity to tell you.”
The rehabilitation members were unaware that Hyun-woo was playing Galaxian. But Kang Yoo-jin noticed that he didn’t want to talk about it and changed the subject.
“We’ve known him for quite some time. Now he is the director of a large company but he was going through some troubles when we first met. I won’t explain the details but he just spent his days working part time jobs. So please don’t misunderstand.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
Ma Cho-rong sighed and interrupted.
“Hyun-woo bought the land that he earned with a lot of difficulty. Damn, now problems are occurring here. The Taek Mountain was selected as the location of a new town. Now it is just a bunch of hills!”
Cho Min-sun who had been listening silently asked with surprise.
“What did you say just now?” This is the Taek Mountain region? Here is Taek Mountain?”
“Eh? Do you know it?”
“Ah no, all I know is……”
Cho Min-sun shook her head. But her complexion had turned pale.
“Are you uncomfortable?”
He eyed Cho Min-sun anxiously who shook her head.
“Ah, it’s nothing. Then Hyun-woo was the owner of that land before?”
“Yes, but he wasn’t the one who bought the land. That friend is a real estate specialist and he purchased the land as investment for Hyun-woo because he heard of the construction of a new town. This might seem like we’re defending Hyun-woo. But it is all true. He bought the land but the land prices plummeted so Hyun-woo is suffering because of his foolish hyungs.”
Yoo-jin hyung, why is hyung talking like this?”
“Yes! It isn’t our fault that the land value fell!”
Then Ma Cho-rong shouted angrily.
“It is thanks to the politicians and businessmen who bought the land and then sold it. That’s why the land prices fell. The land value inflated because of the new construction and then it was sold off quickly. Obviously anyone who would worried.”
“That’s right! Those bastards are to blame.”
“Dammit, have the tycoons and politicians changed in the last few decades?”
“They don’t care about the commoners shedding tears of blood. Those damn bastards! I can’t forgive dogs like them!”
Yoo An-gook suddenly shouted.
“Can’t you differentiate between the right time and place? Hyun-woo brought his long-awaited girlfriend and you’re saying things like that? This isn’t the time for it. Can’t you see the Min-sun ssi is uncomfortable?”
“Ah, no I’m fine.”
Cho Min-sun replied with an embarrassed face. Then she lifted her head and laughed.
“I’m not uncomfortable. No, I want to hear more about exactly what happened. I’m interested in things like this.”
Anyone could tell that it was an awkward smile.